Do not enter.
Unless, you know, you want to be endlessly judged, stared at, told what you’re doing wrong and the like.
More often than not, those not already plugged into a church will not enter solely based off of fear of judgement, rejection, or isolation.
“I’ve been a member of my church for 15+ years and I’ve never felt closer to a group of people.”
Well, let’s be honest. I feel the same way. But is there much diversity in your church family? Does everyone look the same? Live the same lifestyle? Wear the same thing? Go eat at the same places?
Often times churches are full of people who are exactly the same. And any differences between individuals are covered up out of fear of judgement or negative correction.We forget that we were once broken. We forget we are all guilty of sin. We forget that Jesus died to restore all of us. We all forget that our relationship with Christ lies in our heart, not within our scars, tattoos, or choice of clothes.
“If the Church must be anything, it must be a safe place for those struggling.”
– Matt Chandler
God created man and woman in His image (Genesis 1:27). We’ve all heard it preached, argued, taught, and questioned. But what does it mean?
Humans were created in direct relation to God. Humankind is the only piece of creation created directly “in the image of God.” I would say that makes us pretty special. There are three aspects to the creation of mankind: personality, morality, and spirituality.
- Personality: Humans possess knowledge, feelings, and a will. These three sub-aspects set us apart from the rest of living creation.
- Morality: Humans are able to make moral judgements and have a conscience.
- Spirituality: Humans are made for communion with God. It is on the level or spirit that we communicate with God (prayer, worship, scripture, etc.)
Being made in God’s image doesn’t mean He has a physical body like us. What this does mean is that though diety (God) and humanity (y’all and me) are not the same, they are compatible (Jesus).
We are created with the ability to think, feel, see, hear, touch, plan, and speak. I am created in the image of God. You are created in the image of God. Our best friends are made in the image of God. Our worst enemies are created in the image of God.
Christ enables us to have a direct relationship with God through His death on the cross. Christ’s death enables us to have communion with the very God who created us in His own image. Sin isolates us from God. He is holy and righteousness and sin goes against His character. Christ died and took on our sins, taking the punishment of our sin, allowing us to come to God.
We are all sinners, in need of the saving grace we can only find in Jesus. All of us. No matter our race, choice of clothes, religion, nationality, sexuality, number of tattoos and piercings, hairstyle, music choice, criminal record, or honor roll awards, we all fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). We all need need the salvation only Christ, the Son of God, offers us.
We tend to find comfort in being around those we find commonality with. We tend to find comfort in being with those who are similar to us. We stay away from those who look different, sound, different, go to different places, and believe different things. The Church should not be seen as such. The Church should not be a place where people fear to go because of being isolated, judged, or rejected. The Church must be a safe place where those with struggles can flock to for love, comfort, and support. Those struggling should flock to the Church because we find comfort in Christ and share that same comfort with those around us.
Our love for Christ ignites our hearts to love others. Others similar to us. Others different form us. Christ’s love ignites our hearts to love the oppressed, the minority, the refugee, and the confused.
The Church must be the safe place those who are hurting and confused run to in search of love and truth. The Church must be the safe place that goes to those who are hurting and confused to show love and share truth with grace and compassion.
We must tear down the walls of generalization that surround the church. We must defeat the thought that we are her to judge and reject whatever is different to us. We must embrace difference. We must embrace those we so often ignore or look over. We must embrace and love others before they have a chance to fear.
In a world so full of hate and difference, fight to embrace those who are hurt and rejected. Do not let the body of Christ continue to be feared by those who need Him. Don’t search for comfort in the Gospel. Search for the love and redemption Christ.
Become uncomfortable for the sake of God’s Kingdom.
The Church isn’t a danger zone. The Church is home.